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How to Turn Diet Don’ts into Diet Dos

You might think that your quest to lose weight is at odds with your love of pizza, French fries and other calorie-laden foods. But with a few tricks, you can enjoy these and other “diet don’ts” while eating a healthy diet. Here’s how I do it:

Pizza

While scarfing down several slices of pie is still a diet no-no, there’s no need to shun pizza altogether. One slice of regular crust pizza has 285 calories. Add veggie toppings to make it more virtuous (mushrooms and peppers are my favorites) and pair it with a salad. The veggies will bulk up your meal, making the single slice even more satisfying and the whole meal can still clock in at less than 400 calories (just mind your portion of salad dressing).

Burgers

Yes, a typical burger harbors saturated fat—bad for your arteries and high in calories. But there are a few ways to make it healthier (and lower in calories). 1) Stick to a quarter-pounder. 4 ounces of meat cook down to the 3 ounces that are considered a single portion. 2) Make it lean. 90% or leaner is ideal—a 3 oz. portion is just 180 calories. 3) Use a smaller bun, if you can find one, and if you can find a whole-wheat one, more power to you!

Pasta

Changing the ratio of pasta to sauce is the key to keeping calories down in your favorite pasta dishes. Stick to a cup of cooked pasta (220 calories) and then make a veggie-packed sauce (try Giada’s Pasta Primavera). If it’s really the topping you’re after, you can also substitute spaghetti squash for pasta, making it a veggie-dense, low-cal, but delicious meal.

French Fries

Yes, you can enjoy French fries. Here’s the secret: really enjoy them. Not all French fries are equal and there’s no point in wasting calories on subpar fries. So while you’re eating, reflect on how good they taste and when they stop tasting good (for me, that’s when they start to get cold and/or I’ve just had enough). That’s the time to stop eating. Remember, it’s never a waste to leave food on your plate when you’ve had enough.

Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian who thinks you don’t have to compromise good taste to achieve good health. A former associate nutrition editor of EatingWell Magazine, Kerri-Ann now freelance writes about food, nutrition and health trends and her work has been published on FoodNetwork.com, Yahoo! Shine and the Huffington Post, among others. She also puts her masters degree in nutrition from Columbia University to use teaching classes and counseling individuals on adding healthy behaviors to their daily lives. Find more of her work at kerriannjennings.com or follow her on Twitter @kerriannrd or Facebook.

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